Vastavam web: At least three million Afghans are in “urgent” need of food and could face famine if they do not get help, the United Nations warned Monday, as the war-torn country battles the worst drought in living memory. A dry spell mainly across northern and western Afghanistan has devastated crops, livestock and water supplies, forcing hundreds of thousands of people from their homes.
The drought comes at a terrible time for the country, which is already grappling with a 17-year conflict and preparing to hold a parliamentary election that is three years late. Lanzer said the three million people hardest hit were in the “emergency” phase four of a widely-used food insecurity index — one level below famine. The figure was “among the highest in the world” and required “the most urgent response”.
“If we don’t (reach them) there’s a risk that these people go into level five,” Lanzer said. Aid groups distributed basic commodities, including wheat flour fortified with minerals, vegetable oil and lentils, to 600,000 people last month, Lanzer said. Another eight million people were in the “crisis” phase three of the food insecurity index, which includes people with “food consumption gaps with high or above usual acute malnutrition”.
Lanzer said the figures were “far worse than we had anticipated” and he warned the situation could worsen as temperatures plummet during the winter months. The drought affecting more than half of Afghanistan was triggered by a huge shortfall in snow and rain last winter. Many of the displaced have set up makeshift tents in camps on the edge of urban areas, including the western city of Herat.